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Know your enemy: Arizona Diamondbacks

The Diamondbacks will be better this year.

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The D-backs spring training facility in Scottsdale, Arizona

The Arizona Diamondbacks have been a mostly mediocre team since they won the N.L. West in 2011. They finished exactly at .500 the next two seasons, had a 79-83 year sandwiched in between two 90+ loss seasons, squeezed into the 2017 postseason as a wild card, won it and then got swept by the Dodgers, then went back to mediocrity (82 and 85 wins) the last two years.

Have you even noticed any of this? The D-backs have been mostly anonymous, even in the desert. Sure, they drew two million plus in 2019, but that ranked just 17th in baseball.

So they went out and signed themselves a premier free agent, Madison Bumgarner. Or, more accurately, the guy they hope will pitch like a premier free agent. Bumgarner is only 30, but will be in his 12th (!) MLB season and after various injuries, hasn’t really been dominant since 2016. Sure, he had a good, solid 2.5 bWAR season in 2019, but the D-backs didn’t give him $85 million for five years for that. Nor did they give him all that money to ride in rodeos, but he’s apparently been doing that for several years under a pseudonym.

There were rumors the D-backs were going to trade Robbie Ray over the offseason, but that didn’t happen. With Bumgarner and Ray, they’ve got a pretty solid 1-2 in their rotation. After that? Uh... Mike Leake, Luke Weaver and a bunch of guys trying to hang on, along with some prospects.

The rest of their team returns pretty much intact from 2019, except with former Angel Kole Calhoun patrolling right field. Calhoun is a Phoenix-area native who played college ball at Arizona State, so they’re making a big deal out of that in the Valley.

Three former Cubs are in the “additions” list: Hector Rondon, Edwin Jackson and Jon Jay. It seems likely only Rondon will have a significant impact on this year’s D-backs. Jackson has pitched previously for Arizona, in 2010; in fact, he threw a no-hitter that year, against Joe Maddon’s Rays. If he makes the Arizona roster this will be Jackson’s 18th MLB season. Among Jackson’s teammates his rookie year with the Dodgers in 2003: David Ross.

KEY ADDITIONS: Madison Bumgarner, Kole Calhoun, Hector Rondon, Edwin Jackson, Jon Jay, Trayce Thompson

KEY SUBTRACTIONS: Alex Avila, Jarrod Dyson, Wilmer Flores, Adam Jones, T.J. McFarland, Steven Souza Jr., Matt Andriese

The Cubs will face the D-backs April 3-4-5 at Wrigley Field and April 30, May 1-2-3 in Arizona, the entire season series within the season’s first 35 games.